The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Hungry for Change in Campus Dining Choices

4 min read
It takes three napkins to wipe the grease off from the bottom of the two pizza slices on my plate, plus a minute of pouring shake cheese to soak up some of the grease on top.

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It takes three napkins to wipe the grease off from the bottom of the two pizza slices on my plate, plus a minute of pouring shake cheese to soak up some of the grease on top. When I’m done eating, I get that feeling in my gut that says, “I want to puke, but I can’t,” so I pick up a bag of chips to clean the taste out of my mouth. Then, I have to wash my hands twice to get the greasy feeling off of my fingers.

I wish this were a rare occurrence, but, unfortunately, it isn’t.

Other times, it’s biting into a mostly-burnt quesadilla, only to have a waterfall of grease sop out onto my hands, arms, plate and lap.

Our campus, which mostly features simple American foods like burgers, fries and pizza, seems to be trying its hardest to disprove the idea that these food items are not difficult to make. I don’t expect them to be gourmet or even handmade. Even when I’m at home, I’m more likely to eat pre-prepared foods like pizza rolls, frozen pizza or frozen French fries. It isn’t as if I’m coming into the game with any sort of “refined” palate beyond a basic sense of what gives me stomach aches and what I think tastes bad.

Here’s the thing: pizza rolls don’t make me feel sick.

Eating on campus for this entire semester has. When a college campus cannot make better food than a company that mass-produces mini frozen pizzas, I begin to think there may be a problem.

A few weeks ago, I had to walk over to McDonald’s to get a meal that didn’t make me want to sit by a toilet. It tasted heavenly in comparison.

Not all dishes on campus are terrible or limiting. Naturally Woodstock occasionally features soups that are filling and even taste good, like the red pepper gouda they serve once a week and the broccoli and cheese soup that sometimes has mostly-cooked broccoli inside! There’s the chance of getting a serving of un-stale and un-burnt pita chips. Also, over in the Eagle’s Nest, despite their attempts, they have failed to fully ruin the salad bar.

There are some foods on our campus that dining facilities cannot screw up: the ones that are pre-made. For instance, the cereals in Seacobeck, the beverages (most of the time), bags of chips and frozen dinners and snacks you can buy at the Eagle’s Nest, campus bookstore or vending machines spread across campus.

So, basically, to eat a meal that doesn’t make me want to throw up, I have to turn to vending machines or fast food on a campus that offers three different eating areas? I pay for a meal plan, and I want to enjoy the campus food that comes along with it.

Seacobeck often seems like the best option for me. They serve simple things there, most of which you can put together yourself. How much can pasta and salad be screwed up? They even offer a variety of food made right in front of you, such as the burrito and a stir-fry station.

Then I saw what they did to the place over the summer: lessen the already short and random hours of the Bistro and turn the middle area into a vegan/tofu-friendly zone called the “Smart Market.” Naturally Woodstock followed in the vegan craze. For some reason, this campus seems to be under the impression that the only way to make their food healthy is to churn out more vegan options, rather than simply trying to make sure the food they serve is made with better ingredients, less grease and a little more attention to the ovens and stoves.

Not all of us are vegans, and not all of us have special dietary concerns, although I am proud to live on a campus where they are looking out for those that do.

I do not like the feeling of being forced into a vegan world with tofu and spinach pushed into just about every meal option, while, possibly to compensate, all the meat items are crammed together in a greasy mess like the Underground’s “Festival” or “Turkey Club Quesadilla.”

I’m sure I’m not the only student that has complaints about the food here, and, since we’re the customers, we should have a say in what we want to eat every day. The dining facilities should poll students on what they would like to see more often. I can promise you that the cream of broccoli soup is not going to win over the broccoli and cheese soup. Find out what specific items never seem to be eaten, and ask the students why. Ask what options we would prefer, what we’d like to see more of and what we think should change. Not every student is going to agree on the same things, but I’m sure that, with various opinions, we can come up with menus that everyone can enjoy. I’m sure we all agree that two slices of pizza shouldn’t come in a pool of grease.